Lake E-ffect Newsletter banner SUNY Oswego logoMay 2011 • Vol 7 • No 2

Entries Pour in for Global Science Event, Art Competition

SUNY Oswego's first GENIUS Olympiad science and art competition has invited more than 170 high school finalists from 45 countries and 32 states to SUNY Oswego this summer, and has attracted a noted National Geographic photographer as keynote speaker.

Turkey student

Fehmi Damkaci, assistant professor of chemistry and the competition's chief organizer, was ecstatic about the entries - more than 620 in all. He said it has been tough to trim the list for this summer's Global Environmental Issues U.S. (GENIUS) Project Olympiad on the college's campus.

"It was very difficult to eliminate any of the entries," Damkaci said. "There were remarkably high-quality projects throughout the applications."

From June 26 to 30, the competition and its exhibitions, ceremonies, field trips, judging and fun are expected to draw to Oswego a large percentage of the finalists, their teacher/mentors and, in some cases, family members.

The public is welcome to an opening exhibition of the students' projects at 6:30 p.m. June 27 in Hewitt Union ballroom, followed by a gala opening ceremony at 8:15 p.m. at Tyler Hall's Waterman Theatre. National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths will be keynote speaker.

"This is a science and art competition," Damkaci said. "We were looking for someone to speak to both audiences. Annie Griffiths fits for every angle we considered."

Griffiths, one of the first women photographers to work for National Geographic, has had assignments in more than 100 countries. Her work shows her commitment to portraying need around the world. She is founder and executive director of HotPink, a collective of photojournalists documenting the programs that help poor women deal with the effects of climate change.

With sponsorship from Syracuse Research Corp., Terra Science and Education Foundation, and SUNY Oswego, each visiting entrant and his or her teacher will have only airfare to pay among major trip expenses. Organizers are continuing their fundraising efforts.

Finalists hail from Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt, and the four corners of the Earth: Albania and Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan and Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines. More than 80 American high school projects made the finals.

Surveying the list of project titles hints at the depth of the environmental research the students are putting into their scientific experiments and artwork.

"Removing Oil from Water Using Immobilized Enzymes," from Kyrgyzstani high school students Aidana Bekbulatovna and Aisuluu Sargaldakova, is in a special GENIUS category for water cleanup following oil spills that resulted from the global attention drawn to the rupture and explosion in April 2010 of BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mexican high school students Cuauhtemoc Tonatiuh and Vidrio Sahagun offered "Stormwater Surface Runoff Use and Small Hydraulic Jumps to Improve the Quality of Land, Water and Air." Afghan students Hashmatullah and Ajmaljan Mohammad Ashraf produced "Laser-Based Continuous Monitoring (LBCM) Method for Water Sources." And Sai Saing Toom Herng of Myanmar submitted "We Don't Inherit the Planet from Our Parents, We Borrow It from Our Children," an art entry.

Jeff Rea '71

Turkish high school students Mert Atamaner, foreground, and Selin Balki work on their project for SUNY Oswego's GENIUS Olympiad, titled "Effects of Tobacco Wastes and Compost on Plant Growth with Microbial Biomass and Activity in the Soil: Pot Experiment." The more than 170 finalists from 45 countries and 32 states have invitations to visit Oswego from June 26 to 30 for judging, public exhibitions and ceremonies, a trip to Niagara Falls and more.

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